Canadian Biomass Magazine

Torrefaction plant ready to ramp up

October 14, 2011
By Scott Jamieson

Oct 14, 2011, Toronto - Topell Energy's Robin Post van der Burg told attendees at the 2011 CANBIO annual meeting and conference that his company's torrefied wood plant in the Netherlands will soon be ready to make its first 5,000 tonne delivery to local power generators.

The 60,000 tonne/year plant uses a patented cyclonic process to torrefy low quality wood in 100 seconds, breaking down the wood's hemi-cellulose in a controlled environment between 260 and 300 degrees C.

Post van der Burg showed heat balance calculations with over 95% thermal efficiency. Combined with the ability to use lower grade fibre such as hog fuel, that allows for what he called a better value chain prospect than wood pellets when the cost of converting coal-burning facilities to allow for storage and handling modifications are included. The process will even be competitive with coal in the near future if European CO2 costs are factored into the equation.  

Topell, jointly owned by its founders and RWE Innogy Venture Capital (39 per cent), has run its plant for over 500 hours and five days continuously, and are in the process of adding heat exchangers to allow it to run at 100% capacity for over five days. "With that modification, we'll be able to switch to what I would call running full out. At that point we will be able to make our first 5,000 tonne delivery very shortly after."

According to Post van der Burg, the technology is scalable to 25 tonnes/hour at low energy consumption compared to other torrefaction technologies, but he says the perfect plant scale in Canada will likely be in the 100,000 to 150,000 tonnes/year range. "At that point you are drawing low-quality wood from a given fibre supply without having to use more expensive white wood, or driving up your fibre costs." More info here .

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